Sen. Ted Cruz had some trouble answering the first question at his debate with Rep. Beto O'Rourke last night.
It wasn't about how to handle the knotty diplomatic crisis in Saudi Arabia or how to patch the skyrocketing deficit.
It was: "Tell us something you’ve done in the last year that has nothing to do with politics that would give Texans insight to who you are as a person.”
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Cruz was silent for six seconds, then let out a sigh amid audience laughter.
Ultimately, Cruz talked about the difficulty of balancing fatherhood with his responsibilities in the Senate. He said he often missed his daughters’ activities and had to touch base via FaceTime.
O’Rourke also spoke about missing family time. He talked about how his daughter was raising a blind squirrel, and how he played drums on a set "ostensibly purchased for [son] Henry but was really purchased for me."
Reaction to Cruz's awkward moment took about six seconds to hit Twitter.
Even my Republican husband laughed at Cruz’s awkward silence on that one.— Tracy Bristol (@TheTracyShow) October 17, 2018
Cruz is defending his Senate seat against a challenge from O'Rourke, a three-term U.S. Congressman from El Paso. O'Rourke has been running an unusually competitive campaign in heavily Republican Texas. He drew 50,000 people to a rally headlined by country singer Willie Nelson and raised a record $38.1 million in the last quarter.
But Cruz has begun to break away in the polls, which once saw the pair in a dead heat. A CNN poll found Cruz outpolling O'Rourke 52 to 45 percent. Cruz's bounce followed his first debate with O'Rourke, in which he attacked the Democrat, who largely didn't return fire and stayed on a positive message.
Cruz's blooper aside, O'Rourke took a sharper tone on Tuesday night. In response to Cruz's contention that he was an "extreme liberal," O'Rourke labeled Cruz dishonest (even reviving Trump's sobriquet "Lyin' Ted") and a contributor to partisan rancor.
No Democrat has won a statewide office in Texas since 1994, the country's longest political losing streak.